By: Ashley McCubbin
After going 11 straight seasons with a trip to victory lane, including nine alone throughout 2020, nobody believed Kevin Harvick would be winless through 2021 and thus far in 2022. However, that is exactly the case as he finds himself on the verge of possibly not making the playoffs this year.
So when you turn to crew chief Rodney Childers and ask for a grade on the season, it’s easy to understand why he feels they are not where they expected to be.
“For our team, we’re expected to go out there and win eight or nine races a year and when you don’t do that it’s a huge disappointment,” he told NEWS FROM THE PITS. “To come off of last year and not be able to capitalize there, you want to go into this new car and come out with a bang and I think we’ve all see that we obviously haven’t been able to do that and it’s taken a lot of adjustment from a memory standpoint, whether it’s driver, crew chief, road crew – everybody involved – it’s just trying to get our hands and arms wrapped around it and figure it out and go out there and compete.”
The lack of success cannot be attributed to surprises with the NextGen car, as everything has happened as per what Childers says they would’ve thought, from the way certain tracks raced to the tire issues.
“I think all of it has kind of gone to plan for me and what I had in my head,” he commented. “The only thing that hasn’t gone to plan is us going to victory lane, so we’ve got to get our hands around that and get focused on that and hopefully do that soon.”
A lot of confidence surrounds both Childers and Kevin Harvick entering this weekend, given his past success at the magic mile with just one finish worse than 36th in the last eight races, including four trips to victory lane. A win would be huge as everybody knows with seven races still left to go until the playoffs are set, the field is wide open – given the variety of winners to date, and tracks left to run.
“The guys that think they’re safe right now might not be safe, so it could definitely change a lot,” he commented. “There’s a lot of racing left. I keep looking at the calendar and I’m like, ‘Man,’ I know the races are kind of counting down, but you look at those races and for a crew chief you look at how those races play out – what happens in those races, whether it comes down to restarts or pit stops, tire strategy or these road courses anything can happen. You just have to keep focused and keep plugging away and hopefully get better and we do feel like we’ve gotten better and better.
“The road course stuff and going to Road America is a little bit of a struggle for us, but I think we finished about 30th there last year so to finish 10th was a huge improvement for us. To be able to qualify bad and move up the whole day was important, but I think the key was Nashville and being able to run with the good cars all night and having a really good race. I hope that was a turning point for us and we can keep moving forward from there.”
Categories: Interview, NASCAR Cup Series
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